REVIEW: THE WIDOW, BY FIONA BARTON

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Glen and Jean Taylor might have seemed like an ordinary couple at some point, but their lives in this tidy suburb of London have just gone off the rails.

A little girl named Bella Elliott has gone missing, and inexplicably, at least to Glen and Jean, he is the prime suspect. They are now hounded by police, reporters, and angry strangers. Hiding in their home is not even possible, once Glen is arrested and begins to stand trial. He is proclaiming his innocence, and Jean is standing by him.

In order to fully understand his point of view, of course, we have only to watch and wait, as various characters share their perspectives: Detective Bob Sparkes and his associates; reporter Kate Waters; the missing child’s mother, Dawn; and Jean herself.

The story moves back and forth through time, starting in the early years of the Taylor marriage, when the roles were set: Glen, the one in power, with Jean, the housewife and submissive one.

But things shifted at some point, perhaps when their childlessness became an issue. Jean is devastated about not having a baby, and Glen is the infertile one. Could Jean have somehow persuaded Glen to “get” the child for her? Is Bella the baby she has always wanted?

The focus on Glen has come about primarily because of the sighting of his van in the child’s neighborhood around the time she was taken…and his Internet porn addiction.

When we are swept forward in time, to the present, something major has changed. Glen has been struck by a bus and killed. An accident? At any rate, now the police and reporters take a different tack. Maybe they can get Jean to talk. Maybe they can finally find Bella.

The past and the present finally converge and we are moving forward to a moment of enlightenment. What the police have “known” all along but couldn’t prove might finally be forthcoming.

Jean was a puzzling character. Sometimes she seemed like a victim, while at other times, I thought of her as sneaky and manipulative. Glen always felt like a predator, and his behavior seemed creepy and like that of a sociopath; in addition to denial of any wrong-doing, he adamantly maintained the persona of the innocent victim. I liked DI Bob Sparkes, but Kate Waters seemed to push her own agenda with the use of charm and by pretending to befriend her subject. She seemed untrustworthy, wanting to get the story, no matter what the consequences. The Widow was an intriguing story that had very little of mystery about it, except for the details of how it all went down. 4.5 stars.

*** An e-ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

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9 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE WIDOW, BY FIONA BARTON

  1. I’ve heard that several people are reading this one now and most don’t seem to be able to put the book down. That bodes well for my enjoyment. Although the subject matter seems grim. I’ll pick it up next month perhaps.

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  2. Pingback: Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

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